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Nimbus adds management, analytics for Gemini all-flash array

Nimbus Data upgrades HALO storage operating system for Gemini all-flash array, adding system analytics, open API and a mobile management application.

All-flash array startup Nimbus Data upgraded its HALO operating system today, adding system analytics, an open application programming interface and a mobile management feature.

The new features are a sign that early all-flash vendors such as Nimbus realize that having solid-state drives (SSDs) in their arrays are not enough to make them all-purpose storage providers. They also must develop management and monitoring features to hold off competition from larger vendors, such as EMC and NetApp, who are coming into the all-flash market.

HALO Analytics tracks and reports historical and real-time array statistics, such as storage utilization and efficiency, flash endurance, system health and throughput. It can report array-level, port-level and session-level results for performance trend analysis or locate data points for system events. It stores statistics in Round Robin Database (RRD) format to enable the use of third-party charting software.

Nimbus CEO Tom Isakovich said HALO Analytics tracks more than 200 metrics in the array, including system load, flash endurance and life expectancy.

"We're even correlating this data to specific hosts and specific sessions so we can [track the latency of specific sessions within specific hosts," he said.

The REST-based application programming interface (API) will allow users to integrate existing monitoring and management tools with Nimbus Gemini arrays.

"The API can do everything that the vendor-provided tool can do," Isakovich said. "So customers can develop their own management tools from the ground up to configure and do everything they like within this environment."

Besides adding management features, SSD array vendors need to keep costs down for the technology to take off. Ben Woo, founder and managing director of Neuralytix Inc., a New York- based technology consulting firm, said that Nimbus Data's addition of the REST-based API could lower users' administration expenses.

"Being able to write to that API or get information out of the API will drive down the cost of ownership because now you can start to manage things within the array, within the hypervisor level, or at a much higher management level," Woo said.

Isakovich said it is more convenient for customers to have these features inside the array OS than through a third-party application.

"Sophisticated customers and service providers may not be interested in learning yet another tool," Isakovich said. "They've already got so many tools they're struggling to keep up with. They probably already have some sort of centralized framework, and they want to import data into that existing framework."

He said Nimbus Data plans to publish the 100-page API document on its website as a free download.

Nimbus is also adding a HALO Mobile feature that enables administrators to monitor Gemini arrays from Apple iOS and Android OS devices.

The updated storage-system OS is available today as a free download from the Nimbus Data website.

Until recently, the all-flash array landscape was dominated by startups such as Nimbus, Violin Memory, Pure Storage, Solid Fire, Whiptail, Kaminario and Skyera. But over the past month EMC made its XtremIO flash array available on a limited basis and NetApp said it would begin shipping a beta version of its FlashArray around mid-year.

Isakovich called the entrance of the major vendors a "category-building" event for all-flash.

"EMC and NetApp are admitting openly that, 'We don't have something for this; our existing stuff doesn't cut it; we have to come out with something brand new,'" Isakovich said. "It's nice to have something to compare us against, and now there is a comparison."

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